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Virtually attending ALT-C 2017 in Belfast

This semi-formal event was one of the first the Northern Ireland Members Group organised for a wider audience. As a nascent group it was wonderful to see the turn out for the virtual attendance of the annual conference on the Tuesday and Wednesday.

Each day had many contrasting elements, the different keynotes and the different locations being the most prominent. Tuesday took place in the Moot Court in the new Law Building at Queen’s University, and we all got an inside view of the technology available within the space. The streaming of the sessions was of superb quality and there was barely a break in transmission throughout.

Wednesday in contrast took place in a creative space in the new Ulster University Belfast campus. This room was overflowing with various furniture – desk chairs to sofas – tools and technology woven seamlessly in, highlighting its flexible, collaborative potential.

Across the two days we had a mix of learning technologists, academics and librarians which was one of the elements that we were most keen to promote – a connection across all areas of staff. Discussions after live sessions were rich and stories and experiences swapped.

It is something that we would definitely consider doing again because whilst we could have watched the sessions in private at our desks there were definite benefits to be had as a group, such as:

  • new connections were made
  • new projects were proposed
  • different viewpoints were shared
  • stories and experiences were shared
  • making the effort to specifically be away from the desk in a different location afforded greater focus on the talks

Having learned from the experience, however, we would potentially change the length of the days and perhaps focus on having a breakfast meet up specifically for the keynotes as people found it difficult to attend for the whole day. Also the live streaming programme was liable to change and unlike live attendees we couldn’t change session if a live talk was removed from the session.

Discussions were so good it was difficult to be in multiple spaces at once so we still have a lot to catch up on such as the #LTHEchat Storify and Virtually Connections sessions.

Many thanks to all who helped organise the days, who attended and of course a very special thanks to both institutions for coffee, scones and bacon rolls.

Finally a huge congratulations to our committee member Richard Beggs, who gained third place in the Learning Technologist of the Year Awards. What an achievement and an inspiration for us all!

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